In February of this year, my partner and I packed up our lives and moved to Canada. Moving from the U.K. to Canada wasn’t too daunting for us as a few years ago, when we moved to Australia for a year. We set out on our new adventure full of hopes and dreams. We had so many plans and we were so excited for our new life to begin.
When we departed from the U.K., we were very lucky to catch our flight out on time. This was due to three storms that were one by one, blasting across the country wreaking havoc. We should have taken this as a sign of what was to come, but our spirits remained high.
After a couple of weeks of being in Vancouver, we found a place to live in the city which was over our budget by a fair amount. First, we applied to two studio apartments but those got snatched up before we finished filling out the application forms. We very quickly learned how fast places go here and so when we saw a one-bedroom apartment, even though it was over budget, we dived in headfirst.
We both had some freelance clients from the U.K. that would keep our finances in check whilst we were looking for full-time work in Vancouver. Everything was slotting into place. We were excited to live in the city, there were so many job opportunities and we had already started to fill out our calendar with events and festivals.
It was only within the first three weeks of living in our new place that things started to close due to COVID-19. We are quite an introverted couple and so at first this really didn’t impact us too much. We missed going to the library and using the gym but apart from that, life wasn’t all that different. We had each other, we had a daily routine and we were speaking to our friends and family from home online.
Before social distancing and staying at home were encouraged here in British Columbia, we managed to make a couple of local friends through Facebook groups. We also managed to find the best place to food shop and even got ourselves a couple of bicycles.
It wasn’t long before job applications were being put on hold, freelance clients were dropping like flies and some clients began to negotiate lower pay. We had signed a 6-month lease for a place that was out of our budget and so understandably, we began to panic. Moving to a new country is hard enough, and experiencing moving during COVID-19 was a challenge neither of us will ever forget.
When we weren’t doing freelance work, we entertained ourselves with activities like yoga, meditation, running, cycling, online quizzes, card games and of course, Netflix. Even though we had established a routine and were doing things to keep us busy, we still had a lot on our minds. Worrying about finances was always at the forefront of our troubles. We set out a super tight budget and did what we could to stick to it.
We ended up putting ourselves under a lot of pressure and getting burned out. We were worried about our family and friends in the U.K., we were worried about being able to stay in Canada, and we were actually overworking ourselves trying to stay busy. We decided everything was out of our control and tried to relax a bit—easier said than done though.
Over the last 3 months, we have had our highs and lows. As things begin to open up here, we have had lots of time to reflect. We feel so lucky to have stayed safe and well and that our families have, too. We also feel that fate played a role in us getting this apartment. Although we’ve had to stretch to pay for it, we’ve had so much space to both relax and work out. We definitely wouldn’t be saying the same if we had got either of those first two studio apartments we applied for.
Although job hunting and freelancing have been really difficult, we have used our time over the last few months to improve our portfolios, participate in online courses and network with people in our area. We now feel ready to run full pace into the next employment opportunity, whatever that may be.
We are also extremely grateful for our bicycles! Every week we have been cycling to do our food shopping, rain or shine. With backpacks loaded onto each bike, that in itself has been quite the challenge. We actually got the bikes for free on a ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook group!
Although my partner and I have been together for almost 6 years, experiencing moving abroad during a pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves and each other. We have learned that we both need to work on taking some time out and we’ve also learned that we can get through anything together. It doesn’t look like COVID-19 is going away anytime soon but we know we can adapt to whatever life throws at us.
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